About the Program
When Jason, one of Principal Tagaki’s students, name calls Amir for being Muslim, she uses the incident as an opportunity to share her story of being sent to a Japanese Internment Camp during World War II, and to teach the students an important lesson about racism and what it is to be an American. Based on the real life story of an LAUSD Principal.
At a school assembly, Jason calls his friend Amir a terrorist. Principal Tagaki gets to the bottom of this altercation and uses it as an opportunity to teach a valuable lesson on racism and prejudice. She shares her story of living as a little girl with her brother Pete and her parents in Long Beach, California when Japan bombs Pearl Harbor and America enters the Second World War. Her happy life is turned upside down when her family must quickly pack their belongings and move first to the Santa Anita racetrack and then to a Japanese Internment camp in Jerome, Arkansas. Living conditions at camp are terrible–blistering hot days, shared toilets, and disgusting cafeteria food. For the most part, people are trying to stay busy and stay positive.
Shizzy wants to follow the rules and keep the family intact, but her brother, an aspiring baseball player, is rebellious and angry at being at camp where he can’t work or train. He challenges his teacher, Ms. Covey, when she teaches the Constitution, and he throws a snowball at one of the Military Police. Shizzy’s strict father can’t control Pete, so Shizzy tries to reign Pete in herself. In the end, it is Pete who comes to Shizzy aid to protect her and to remind her of who she is: Japanese AND American.
This program was made possible with support from the California Civil Liberties Public Education Program at the California State Library.
Written by Alison Minami. Directed by Mike Hagiwara. Performed by Alison Minami and Ricky Pak with Loryce Hashimoto and Reuben Uy as alternates.